Monthly Archives: August 2009

manhattan madness (again)

I’m in Manhattan again tonight, in the Theater District, near our NYC office. I flew here Monday morning from Savannah, where we were for my cousin Capri’s wedding. We had a lovely family reunion, and I was sad to return to the working, real, world.

Tonight, I went for sushi in the Village with a co-worker, and then we walked for a couple blocks along Jane Street and Greenwich Ave. I am, of course, enchanted with the Village and its curving, cobblestone streets. I love the fact that it was once a suburb of New York. Imagine the day when New York City was so small that Greenwich Village was a suburb…and everything north was undeveloped.

Also, I took the subway down, out of curiosity – and yep, there’s rats in there. Enormous rats. I have taken mass transit in London and Paris, in San Francisco and Los Angeles and even in Washington, DC…and that is the first time I have seen that kind of filth at the bottom of a subway. But it gets from points A to B efficiently and is an amazing system, so who am I to point out an ENORMOUS FREAKING RAT.

Then I returned to “home”, the Sheraton that backs onto Broadway, and went on a brief excursion for dessert. Artificial ice cream loses its structural integrity in the summer weather its best suited to – my cone last night disintegrated in a most undignified fashion, so I got a cup tonight, which promptly melted into liquid by the time I returned to the hotel. But I got my ultra low-calorie frozen dairy product fix in the brief time allotted. Pinkberry may not come in as many flavors, but it does hold up a LITTLE better.

AND I noticed that, in this neighborhood, there is both a Tim Hortons AND a TD bank. As a Canadian, I feel right at home!

I’m exhausted and need what little sleep I’m entitled to before heading down to Philadelphia in the morning. I actually *heart* Philadelphia, but won’t get to see the city at all this trip – client visit is to the suburbs. In NYC, I’m lost as to what I would even visit; in PHL, I drift through the old parts of the city and happily recall snippets of American history. I doubt much of historic America will be visible from the New Jersey Turnpike or the roads into the suburbs of Pennsylvania tomorrow though. Perhaps I will just sleep more in the car.

not in words, not in fairytales

Last night, for my birthday, we went out to Bar Sinister. By pure coincidence, The Last Dance were playing. I happen to really like The Last Dance, who have best known locally for being (a) the Bar Sinister house band and (b) being on “The Search for the Next Elvira and (c) being on any goth compilation that also features the Cruxshadows or ThouShaltNot – they’re a goth rock band.

It turns out that Abney Park were also playing at the Knitting Factory the same night. I also happen to really like Abney Park. I saw them at the The Nightmare Before Bats Day three years ago. They’re a steampunk group from Seattle, who have been pushing the theme band envelope a lot harder lately (“Abney Park is from an era that never was…”). I went with Bar Sinister because it’s more party friendly, a $5 cover and lots of space, as opposed to the cost of a ticket and a band not everyone will be into. (I thought about doing the Saturday at Ruin, since that was also happening, but everyone knows Bar Sinister better). But I still was disappointed – this is the third time I’ve missed Abney Park in the last year, including the show The Last Dance opened for in March that I actually had tickets to (I was working).

Anyways, it turns out I didn’t have to completely miss Abney Park. The band walked in to Bar Sinister, did a bit of yelling back and forth with The Last Dance, and then the electric violinist bounced up on stage to play


Dear Hammity, Beck and the rest of the right wing:

Complaining that “the America you grew up with” is being torn apart makes about as much sense in 2009 as complaining that the British Empire is dead.

bye bye, grandad

We went to the Island last week to scatter my father’s ashes.

My father lived the last half of his life in Oak Bay. Dad loved Oak Bay. His brother, my Uncle Reg, told me that they thought the coastal village in Cumbria, where they grew up, was the best place on earth – “until Walt got to Oak Bay.” To Dad, Oak Bay was like the northwest English province he grew up in – only better. It was Workington without the industrial zones, set in the Pacific Northwest landscape that so reminded him of the seashore and the mountains of Cumbria and Yorkshire. Victoria is a lost British colony, but Oak Bay is a misplaced English town, and seeing the hills and forest and islands every day was, to Dad, his version of paradise. “Some people think Hawai’i is paradise,” he said to us, often enough. “I don’t bloody well think so. This is a better paradise.”

It wasn’t a surprise to us that Dad wanted his ashes to be scattered in the ocean, rather than be buried in a local cemetery. Dad never wanted ceremony. It was one of the core characteristics that he shared with my mother – a basic common sense, a dislike of the overly ceremonial, a love of simplicity. But my mother, knowing the water off Victoria, wanted to wait until the warmest weekend of the year to hire a boat for this minimalistic memorial. And, in the time she had to plan, she found a charter boat, planned a garden party to follow, and invited the people who meant the most to my father. Mom planned the funeral she knew my father wanted, and spent countless hours making it as perfect and well organized and as, well, enjoyable as possible for a sad occasion.

And so, my sister and I, along with our husbands, found ourselves on a boat ten days ago, leaving the Oak Bay Marina on a perfect Saturday afternoon, with a mix of relatives from not only my father’s family, but also my mother’s family – and even my in-laws. My father’s three brothers came in from the suburbs of Victoria and Vancouver where they live. They were brought over by one of my favorite cousins on my father’s side, who brought his new wife. Dad’s best friend and colleague joined us, and brought his wife. My half-sister and brother from Dad’s first marriage came in from Vancouver. My mother’s siblings came up from the States. And Paul’s parents came in from Pittsburgh, by way of a visit to us in L.A. beforehand. And then we had Benjamin. It was a full boat of people who had known and loved and respected my father.

My sister, who is wonderful with meaningful, touching gestures, had spent hours and hours visualizing and putting together a program for the afternoon. She chose three hymns that Dad loved, that he would sing to himself, or sing us to sleep with. Dad loved to sing, and he had the wonderful voice and love of music to back it up. Monica chose the hymns, and designed a program on card stock with ribbons with the music and lyrics for us all to sing along. I spent most of Saturday morning bonding with my brother-in-law Jonathan as we tried to get Microsoft Word to print the programs correctly onto the custom sized pieces. Eventually, we printed twenty perfect copies, which my sister brought out on the boat, and I handed out as we prepared to sing. It’s tradition in so many parts of the British Isles to sing the dead home, but it also unites the living in song while you’re doing it.

When it came time to scatter the ashes, we all took turns standing at the stern of the boat, and then kneeling down, a few inches above the water, to ladle out the ashes into the ocean. My mother first, not only as my father’s wife, but also as the one who brought us all together and planned the ceremony and the day around it. My sister went next, then me, then my half siblings, then Dad’s brothers, and then the rest of the family and friends on board. At the end, there were still ashes left in the urn, so I stepped out and poured them into the water. And then, as the boat pulled away from the spot I picked up Ben, and said, “Bye bye,” and waved. Ben waved and said, “Bye bye.”

“Bye bye, Grandad,” I said.

“Bye bye, Gra-daa”, Ben repeated.

“Bye bye, Grandad,” I said.

“Bye bye, Grandad,” Ben repeated. “Bye bye,” And he waved his little chubby hand, and grinned to be out on the boat.

And that was one of the most heartbreaking moments of the day for me. Having my tiny boy say bye-bye to a grandfather he’s never going to know, and won’t remember, seems so tragic. I wish my father could have lived long enough to know the grandson he wanted so much. I wish Ben would have some memory of his grandad, watching Thomas the Tank Engine with him, or reading Wind in the Willows or singing lullabyes or explaining cricket – something that he could only have shared with Dad. I wish my father had had the chance to see what a wonderful tiny boy we have. Even seeing Ben out on that boat – he loved every minute of it. It was an all new experience, and he was so excited to be out seeing the ocean and doing something new that he wasn’t scared at all by the rocking of the waves. Dad would have been so proud of Ben, and would have claimed him as a “chip off the old block.” (Everything he was proud of in my sister and I, he claimed as coming from him.)

We returned to land, and to the house, and set out the catered tea party my mother had picked up that morning. And everyone chatted in the backyard for two more hours, in the sunshine, on a beautiful August day. It turned into a lovely garden party. I think it was the best possible kind of funeral: the one the deceased would have been enjoyed. My mother and sister planned and executed a wonderful day, a day my father is, no doubt, disappointed he couldn’t be there to enjoy.

i hereby call for a boycott of wal-mart

Wal Mart is selling knock-off Girl Scout cookies. For those of you unaware, that’s how the organization funds itself – through cookies. This is just despicable.

one week, six airports (in boston’s suburbs)

In the last seven days, I have been through six airports:

1) LAX
2) SEA
3) YYJ (Victoria Int’l)
4) JFK
5) LGA (LaGuardia)
6) BOS

I’m in Wakefield, MA, tonight, looking at a picture of the Wakefield Town Hall that is hung over my desk at the Sheraton, and reflecting on how it looks VERY similar to the Victoria City Hall. Both are from the late 1800s, after all. The Wakefield City Hall, however, has about ten times the decoration and fripperies and what looks like a freaking widow’s walk on the top of the tower. Were the widows taking up local government after their brave men didn’t come home from the Civil War?

I’m also lamenting my lack of time here – I really want to see Boston. I loved wandering Philadelphia on my own two years ago. I love learning about American History. The more I learn, the more fascinated I am by all the working parts of all these places that make up this huge country. For that reason, I would love to spend more time here, in a city that was already established long before the Revolution. But it is Not to Be this trip. This is a client visit, and then a flight home to my tiny boy, and that is it. Back to L.A., back to my tiny family, back to the city which is really just a colony of the East Coast I’ve been visiting these last few days.

ben says, “outside!”

I’m in NYC today. I went to Facebook Marketing Camp yesterday. It was awesome. Facebook & social media advertising models are going to change How The Internet Is Paid For.

I speak to Ben every night on the phone now, and get a series of hoots in return. Then I hear him start saying, “Outsai? Outsai?” This is Ben’s Second Word: “Outside”, and basically means, “can I go out & toddle/explore/play”? He usually says it while looking out the front door, which is one big window. He did this while we were in Victoria too – even though he had to chase Riley away from the back door to do it.

Oh, and that was Ben’s first word: “Riwey!” We tried to get him to say “doggie” successfully, since he kept saying “ddd – ddd – ddd” in an attempt to get there. But then, Friday morning, I was calling Riley over, and Ben said, “Riwey!” And we all looked at him, and I said, “Ben, did you say…Riley” and Ben said, “Riwey!” We did get him to eventually say “Riley,” very clearly, and I will post the video once I get back to L.A. this weekend.

Tiny boy can now walk, and has started to talk. As my husband says, we’re doomed.